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The ’00s Revisited: Superman #164

superman_0164Tales From the Bizarro World

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ed McGuinness, Carlo Barberi
Inks: Cam Smith, Juan Vlasco
Jimmy Olsen’s Pal: Joe Casey
Letters: Richard Starkings
Color: Tanya + Richard Horie
Assistant Editor: Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: January 2001
Cover Price: $2.25

This issue opens with Jimmy Olsen getting into some trouble, requiring rescue by…well, Superman would be great, but he’s saved by Bizarro #1 instead! While Jimmy deals with the wackiness that his life quickly becomes with Bizarro’s presence, we see Superman and Lois met by Batman, who confirms that there’s no way for them to prove Luthor’s not who and what he claims to be…they can’t throw any last-second interruptions into Luthor’s bid for the presidency. Later, we find Superman watching numerous news reports of the unfolding election night, and J’onn offers a moment of levity against Superman’s rising stress. Meanwhile, Jimmy again finds himself in need of rescuing…this time, an unfamiliar Supergirl shows up. Though the two share a bit of a connection, that’s quickly interrupted by Bizarro. A slugfest ensues, ultimately stopped by Superman…whose presence is a bit unsettling to Jimmy. Finally, we end with the question: is Lex Luthor about to be the President-Elect?

I certainly never appreciated this issue when it came out, back in November of 2000. And I actually recall feeling like I missed an issue somewhere, between this and the one that came the following week. Now, of course, it feels quite appropriate, and I dug it out for a re-read specifically for the timing here…November 2016.

The art is solid enough, though a bit cartooney…as is McGuinness‘ style. I didn’t care for it much back then, and don’t find it entirely appropriate here…but it works, and the art has certainly grown on me…if only for the nostalgia-effect. This issue came out sixteen years ago, and I remember this issue and this period of Superman comics when I was getting the issues brand-new each week.

The story works quite well for me here, and I rather appreciate the glimpse into Jimmy’s side of things. It also gives the reader an entry-point that made this work pretty well as an isolated read, recalling solely that Luthor was running for president, and that this takes place within a couple issues of the Emperor Joker stuff. Which of course explains the new-ness of Bizarro to Jimmy; and this also seems to take place around a major change in the then-current Supergirl title…a lot of changes coming together in one issue.

It’s eerie how appropriate the story is at present, given the nature of the 2016 US Presidential Election. And I think it’s safe to guess that pretty much everyone sees "a Luthor" in the race.

Given all he knows about Luthor, Superman still trusts "the people" and "the system" to see that Luthor can’t possibly actually be elected President. And despite the obvious in terms of relating to someone of his position and powers and all that (to say nothing simply of being a fictional character!)…I find it quite relatable seeing Superman’s reactions in this issue. Then there’s knowing how it all goes, and even ultimately turns out in issues succeeding this one.

This worked far better than I would have expected as an isolated one-off. It’s by no means a jumping-on point in an ongoing sense…but I would say is one of the better issues to just sit and read. You have Superman himself as well as primary supporting characters, and this draws on subplots that’ve built up and also sets things for issues to come. Common as the comparison’s become…it’s like watching an episode of an old tv series one remembers, and enjoying the episode as itself, recalling enough to get by but not necessarily being fully immersed in the ongoing story anymore.

If you’d find this in a bargain bin, it’s well worth getting, particularly 25 to 50 cents. Above $1 I’d avoid it for casual readers…fans of Superman in general, McGuinness‘ visuals or this period of the character might be more interested.

Election Night 2012

I Ohio VotingFinally: Election Night 2012. I’m not at all in any real comic book mood tonight, nor do I have any other posts prepared. Suffice to say, I have a LOT more interest in this US Election and its outcome right now. I also look forward to no longer being bombarded with political ads, especially on Facebook.

Vote Lex 2000But, I felt I should post SOMETHING today. And what better than a story that blew me away nearly 12 years ago?

Without delving into my longboxes or doing any significant research: I recall in the Superman comics in the Summer/Fall of 2000 Lex Luthor was in full campaign mode, a subplot of all the Superman books was his running for President.

Superman Lex 2000Somewhere along the way from one of the comic shops, I got a little button: “Vote Lex 2000.” I’ve always been amused by this little button and recall joking at the time that hey, yeah, vote for Luthor…at least we KNOW he’s a villain.

And it was a decent subplot that ramped up, and I recall being highly surprised that DC actually had Luthor WIN the Presidency and reflect that across their entire continuity for several years. DC had Luthor, and Marvel (at least in their Ultimate comics) made very clear that they were recognizing Bush for the added realism.

Superman #164 coverI also recall a scene (though whether it was in one of the regular titles or the Lex 2000 Special, I don’t recall) where the Martian Manhunter suggests to Superman that maybe Lex really does have the best interests of The People at heart…before the two burst into a laughing fit, Superman thanking J’onn, as he needed a good laugh.

What tonight, and tomorrow, and beyond hold now, in real-life in 2012 I don’t know. I know what I hope to see, but going on 9 pm EST, it’s far too early for anything to be certain.

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